Using Drugs
Safer Sex
Health Risks
Best Avoided
Talk To Each Other

Using Drugs
Using drugs carries a range of physical and mental health risks, and the only certain way to eliminate these is not to use any drugs at all. However, this may not be realistic when the decision to use or not to use a particular drug is a matter of personal choice, but it must be acknowledged that when choosing to use a drug, a person must accept the associated health risks.

All drugs will affect the user's judgement and probably reduce their inhibitions, increasing the likelihood that they may find themselves in situations they would normally avoid and which may be unsafe. Sexual situations may be more likely to occur when drugs are involved and it may be harder to remember the importance of practising safer sex when using drugs, thus increasing the risks of unplanned pregnancy and sexually- transmitted infections (including HIV).

Safer sex
Safer sex is about preventing body fluids such as semen, vaginal and cervical secretions and blood from entering the bloodstream. The most risky activities are penetrative anal and vaginal intercourse so it is important to use condoms (with a water-based lubricant for anal sex) every time. Oral sex is considered safer but there may still be a risk involved if there are cuts in the mouth. A condom for fellatio and a dental dam for cunnilingus or anilingus will help to reduce the risks of transmission. Always remembering to carry and use condoms will help to reduce these risks.

Health Risks
Injecting drugs directly into the bloodstream carries some very serious health risks. Firstly there is a risk involved where the injection is not carried out correctly; puncturing an artery or allowing air into the bloodstream. Secondly, if the equipment used to inject (needles, syringes, spoons, filters etc.) is not clean, or is shared with other users, there are risks of Tetanus, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV and other blood-borne infections. Our advice is: do not inject drugs.

If you are a regular intravenous drug user always use clean works and equipment. These can be available free from your local needle exchange facility. Contact the National Drugs Helpline for participating pharmacies in Northern Ireland, Tel:- 0800 77 66 00. Thirdly, the impurities that are without doubt mixed with any street drug (ranging from rat poison to talcum powder), may cause allergic or toxic reactions with unpleasant short-term symptoms, and can also block veins and infect injection sites causing septicaemia and abscesses.

Best to Avoid Drugs
Generally it's best to avoid drugs especially if you're feeling anxious or depressed. You should be particularly careful if you're taking prescribed drugs, as there could be unpredictable side effects. The effects of drugs vary depending on how you're feeling emotionally, how fit you are, who you're with etc. You should also note that the less you weigh, the more powerful the effect of any drug will be. If you're going to take drugs, try to make sure that you are with friends. It's usually not a good idea to be on your own. Friends can help when you're coming down or having a bad trip.

Always tell each other what you are taking in case you run into difficulties. Finally under no circumstances should you drive under the influence of any drug. Drugs can alter your perception and reaction times, increasing the chances of having an accident behind the wheel. The police are increasingly looking out for drivers using drugs and you could lose your licence.

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